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Saturday, September 25, 2010

On Lack of Motivation

Well, as anyone can tell, blogging has come to a complete standstill since August 10th. The reason...? It is quite simple and can also be applied to life too. When there is no incentive to do something, it becomes irrelevant and put in the back of our minds. That is what has happened with Shabangity. There has been a lack of motivation to continue the blog due to the bloggers leaving for college, but I promise all you followers that Shabangity will be back up and running!

So, the life lesson here is...people you need to keep goals in mind and stay motivated because when you are motivated, things get done! When you don't have any motivation, laziness takes over your life and inefficiency comes into the picture.

To make this short little blurb even shorter, motivation is the key to being efficient!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

On Why Major League Baseball and the Civil War are Related

I'll say right off the bat that I might be overextending the analogy on this one, in case you weren't able to see that already from the title.  I think I should first explain the thought process that lead to this conclusion.

While running through a meadow the other day (how poetic!), I began to think of battlefields (I subconsciously associated meadows with battlefields), and how many Civil War battles were fought on large fields and farmland.  My next thought was on regionalism and what traces of regionalism can still be found in America today.  I began to think of Boston natives and their intense love of their local sports, especially the Red Sox.  These Red Sox followers do not take kindly to those in New York who support the Yankees, and as a result, we have a bit of a modern day regional conflict.

Of course, these conflicts are not militant, or anywhere close to being militant for that matter, but there is a bit of an underlying hatred of the opponent.  To add, the regionalism could arguably be worse, since it is more localized and represents a smaller areas.  Depending on your perspective, many smaller regions that do not like other regions could be worse than two large regions that do not like each other.

Obviously nothing violent will come out of such rivalries, but I still find it interesting to note how we still hold onto things such as regional differences.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

On the Downfall of Urban Aesthetics

The other day, my friend brought my attention to this picture of downtown Houston in the 1970s:

This photo was not edited in anyway; there were seriously this many parking lots. It's funny, ridiculous, and depressing all at once.  For one thing, the city clearly requires much better urban planning so bigger buildings, and logically bigger businesses, can follow.  To add, it's just plain ugly.  Who wants to live in a high-rise when the only view is acres of parking?  This picture almost gives the city a dead, nothing-going-on, stagnant feeling to it.

As seasoned blog reader (however many there actually may be) may ask, "You seem to talk about nature a lot.  As in, I thought you were kind of the neo-transcendentalist-hippie-Jack London nature woo! type. Why do you care about urban aesthetics?"

And I would first respond with, "Great question, seasoned reader!"

Seriously though, I like nature, but I have other interests, such as Acknowledging the Downfall of Urban Aesthetics and Telling People About It.  Now I'm going to be a bit cliche.

A city truly is a concrete jungle, and like a real jungle, it has its layers that need to function together to make a successful system.  When all that exists are parking lots, it is like chopping down the rainforests (I went there).  The city disintegrates into a wasteland.  In short, parking garages would be a better choice.

If anyone has pictures of a similar situation (my apologies to my friend for usurping his picture), post the pictures or the links!

Friday, August 6, 2010

On A Night of Insomnia

Last night, I was relaxed. A normal nightly routine usually is key for me to fall asleep. I come home from my nightly activity and take a shower. Then, I clean myself up and go into my room where I will go on my computer and listen to some music for about a half hour or so. After that, I move to my bed where I watch some TV until I fall asleep. You are probably wondering why I am writing about my nightly routine? Well, I can tell you why.

Last night, I went through my routine, and I forgot to mention, going to sleep around the same time each night helps your sleep too. But anyway, last night, I did everything right, except I wound myself up after I answered a phone call from my father who let's just say is one of those typical divorced dads that always disappoints his children. Well, I talked to him on the phone and his sense of false reality with his relationship with me stirred up a myriad of emotions that felt like a curled up, swirling ball in my chest. I felt like I had a huge burden over me. Over the past year, I've been working on letting go of my father because he has never failed to disappoint me on every encounter, but part of me can't do it...I'm still a son whose been looking for his father (which I can get into at a later date).

Talking to him on the phone got me going and it ruined my night. I couldn't fall asleep as I had this horrible feeling permeating throughout my body. It was another huge frustration, but this kind is worse than any other. So, I was up pretty much all night because I let myself succumb to the negativity of my father, which was a mistake on my part. I should have just carried out my routine, screened the call, and I would've had a beautiful rest. I write this because I just want people who have trouble falling asleep at nights to make some kind of routine before going to sleep at night. What I find a very easy fix is to partake in physical activity after dinner, like basketball or running. This kind of exertion will wear you out and make the whole process of sleep easier at night. A night of insomnia was no fun, so if this is habitual for you, try the routine, physical activity, and not eating before you go to sleep...this should cure it!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

On Frustration

It seems no matter the occasion, things need to be difficult. Nothing is ever as easy as it seems. For instance, I woke up extra early this morning to go over to the NJ DMV Inspection station to get my car all checked out before I leave for school. The sticker on my car read 8/2010, so I really didn't have a choice... I had to go. So, I drive over to the DMV and there is no line, so I thought to myself, "Great! This will take like 15 minutes and I'll be done with". I was so excited as I watched my car pass through each station knowing that it would only be a matter of minutes before I could drive off with my car and not return to that energy-draining facility for 2 years. But, of course, as I sit down on the bench as my car continues onto the last part of inspection, I watch the lady slap on the red 'REJECTED' sticker. For what? Well, I recently had my car worked on at an auto body shop and because the mechanics took out the battery tray and then replaced after they finished their work, this caused the car's computer system to reset. So basically, my computer did not indicate the correct readings. The inspector told me that the fix is to drive my car around 100 miles and bring it back. What a pain! And I have been frustrated ever since, but I realize that it's no use in allowing yourself to ruin your day over it. Just drive and go back another time, even though it is such a nuisance to even have to drive over to the DMV. But, I'll deal.

Anyway, the point of the matter being that no matter what the situation is, if it evokes frustration, don't allow it to eat away at you all day. Just simply turn away and continue on with your day and things will work out in the end. My solution for this frustration was to go lift some weights and workout. Physical activity is always a good way to release any negative thoughts or feelings that you may have. Steer clear of being frustrated and whatever it is, it'll work itself out.

Monday, August 2, 2010

On Rolling Windows

In the event of my car going into water, I am in a good situation, relatively speaking, as I have rolling windows (a.k.a. the ones you have to crank to make them go up/down).

These windows also allow me to work on my left arm muscles periodically, and since I am a right handed/arm-using person,  it provides a little more balance (at least it's a nice thought, give me credit for trying).  Finally, if I am ever feeling an old school-kickback mood, I can blast my seventies music and awkwardly roll down the windows while driving, just like they did during the golden days.

Nevertheless, there are many downsides to this rather cool window setup.  First, every time I approach a toll (I still have to go through exact change, no EZ-Pass for me), I have to begin cranking down the window while about 300 feet away from the toll so I will be as efficient as possible in the act of paying for the toll.  After the toll is paid, I have to reverse the process and crank the window up while merging back into traffic.  My friends, people who happen to be riding in my car who are not friends - I'll just say everybody - laughs as I hunch over and briskly roll the window up.

The second detriment caused by these windows, and by far the more significant detriment, is the unpredictability of what will enter your window.  What I mean by this is that if I am driving alone, I will rarely roll the passenger side window down.  If I want to do so, I have to roll down the window before driving, otherwise I have to sprawl across the seat at a red light and hope the light doesn't change while doing so.  All this aside, the unpredictability factor then comes in.  I have absolutely no control over the passenger side window, as demonstrated by a little problem I had.

The other day, while driving home from work with both windows down, I noticed a sprinkler ahead that was spraying into the street instead of watering the lawn (Remember when I blogged about sprinklers not watering what they were supposed to?  Prime example!).  I knew I was doomed.  There was traffic, I could not pull over to adjust the window, there were no side streets to avoid the impending and gushing water; it was a bad situation all around.  I waited for the taunting slap of water on the face that was about to occur.

Simply put, I was sprayed as I went by, event though I sped up to lesson the impact.  I guess nothing is perfect.

Friday, July 30, 2010

On Chaos Theory (Or Rather, A Smaller Part of the Much Larger Field)

Ever since I discovered what chaos theory was a few years ago, I have been very intrigued by the field (Yes, I know it is a Wikipedia page, but the website has become much more accurate over the years).  In an incredibly abbreviated synopsis, chaos theory states that even extremely small changes in a system (i.e. weather system, ecosystem) will result in a completely different end result had the change not been made.  For example, one of the men who helped develop chaos theory, Edward Lorenz, had a computer that generated weather patterns based on equations that he put into the machine.  He would switch through various functions to produce different weather scenarios. One day, out of laziness, he left off the sixth decimal place in his equations (so a number such as 4.928472 became 4.92847) and let the machine run and generate weather patterns.  When he came back several hours later, the end result was extremely different than that for the equation that used six decimal places.  This slight variation in the complex system caused the system to behave in a completely different manner.  Lorenz compared the difference to a butterfly flapping its wings, and this is where the term "butterfly effect," which theorizes that a butterfly flapping its wings in, say, Australia, could cause a tornado in Kansas due to the change in the chaotic system, came into use.  Another classic example is the novel-turned-movie Jurassic Park, in which scientists try unsuccessfully to control nature, which is too complex and thus gets out of control.  Chaos theory seeks to predict what would otherwise be incredibly random and unpredictable events (like the weather).

Technicalities aside, I wanted to note a few smaller observations of what I consider to be chaos theory in action.  They involve the parking lot that I mentioned a while back.  Generally, people park in an orderly fashion.  Nevertheless, and this happens more often than not, once one person goes out of order (i.e. parks somewhere else, does not park great), it disrupts the whole system.  People begin to follow this one disruption.  I have seen many cars park neatly, and as soon as one car is a little off, cars after that one begin to park more and more off.  In a sense, the system becomes chaotic.  This parking lot also double parks cars when it gets busy.  Some nights, however, double parking is not allowed.  People do not always know this, and sometimes one person will accidentally double park.  As soon as the one person double parks, many accidentally follow.  It's not their faults, it is just chaos theory coming into play.  Once there is that one deviation, chaotic behavior follows, and it is difficult to undo.

Since I enjoy this subject a lot, I will definitely continue to mention any future observations of chaos theory.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

On Discovering What Has Been There All Along

For the many people who are fortunate enough to live near the beach, only a few take advantage of going to this place at nighttime.  Both of us blog contributers go there often, and we both find that there are few people there past 7PM or so.  You will most likely not see a single other person or group up and down the beach.  It is without a doubt a great place to just relax and either watch the waves or lie down in the sand.  Just last night, we watched the moon rise from the horizon - it was an awesome and almost bizarre sight.  No one ever bothers you at night (unless you are on beaches that close at certain times, which seems paradoxical since you shouldn't be able to "close"nature - thoughts?), and during the summer it is rarely too hot or too chilly.

An idea concerning this "under-usage" of the beach at night is that of naively ignoring what has been there all along.  Some simply do not realize what great opportunities or places are right in front of their noses, but it is not their fault; no one ever told them about these things. This also makes discovering what has been there all along a very rewarding process - it requires thought and effort to discover these opportunities and places.  Instead of saying "Wow that was there all along, I'm an idiot for not realizing this," my reaction has been that of amazement and excitement of finding something new that many cannot find or see.

As another example, I run at a local park a lot.  I would usually show up, get my run in, and go home.  One day, however, I decided to take a small side trail, and it lead me to an awesome lookout on top of a cliff.  For years I ran by the trail, disregarding it completely, but the one time I decided to take "the road less traveled," to be cliche, I discovered something amazing that I had been within only feet of seeing for years.

Discovery does not require venturing far; an enlightening and new experience could literally be only a few feet from where you stand.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

More Thoughts on the Spread of Civilization

Over the past couple of days I've put more thought into the last post I made.  A new thought I have had is that we never truly get the chance to be detached from anything.  What I mean by this is that we are practically always connected to somewhere/someone else through our use of the internet and cell phones.  Cell phone coverage exists almost everywhere these days, and losing reception is something that people need to worry about less and less.  I could be deep in the woods and still have great reception.  In a sense, fewer and fewer areas are free from not only humanity's physical presence (roads, houses, other projects), but humanity's unseen technology is practically always present.

Nevertheless, I went for a run in a more isolated park the other day, and in spite of what I said in my last post about even the park being unisolated and tamed, I did feel separated from the outside.  As I ran along a  trail that usually takes about an hour to complete, I only saw four people, all of whom were on the main part of the trail.  I was in fact able to get a feeling of escaping the developed outside world, if only for a brief moment.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

On the Spread of Civilization

So, what do I mean by this?

While taking off from the airport a few weeks ago, I looked out my window and noticed how civilized the world is (the world being the New York metropolitan area).  For as far as I could see, highways, commercial centers, cul-de-sacs and developments dominated the landscape.  This sight saddened me a bit, as I never really thought of the world being so tamed.  When I go running in some of the larger parks that are near me, I think of being in a massive, unclaimed part of the world.  Nevertheless, as the plane gained altitude, I noticed that even the bigger parks were surrounded by far more developed areas than "natural" areas.  I also realized that the parks themselves are a bit tamed too.  They close at dusk, and the trails are worn and heavily-used.

As I flew over the Midwest, I felt excited to look out the window and see unclaimed and unyielding wilderness.  Once again, I was saddened a bit; the sight was taunting, really.  Massive farms spread out for hundreds of miles.  Sure, there were plenty of "green" spaces, but it was cultivated and tamed.  I am not attacking farms, we need food obviously and I give those people a lot of credit, but there was absolutely no untamed land.  Everything was owned; everything was developed.

This flight was to Alaska, and I will admit that seeing this state was a great relief.  There is increasing development in the state, unfortunately, but a huge portion of it is still untamed.  A person can live in a cabin with no other human being nearby for hundreds of miles around.  There are mountains and valleys everywhere with no highways, cul-de-sacs, or developments.  One of the larger parks up there, Denali National Park (which is larger than the state of Massachusetts), has one road that goes through it.  There are barely any trails, and people (with a permit of course), can get off of this road and walk into the wilderness at any place they choose.  This is wilderness with (almost) no limits, and I sincerely hope it will forever remain that way.